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Author Notes:

Corresponding author: James K. Rilling, Department of Anthropology and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, 1557 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322, Phone: 404-727-3062; jrillin@emory.edu.

We are grateful to an anonymous reviewer for comments and suggestions on an earlier version of this article.

Subjects:

Research Funding:

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health Grants P01AG026423 and National Center for Research Resources P51RR165 (superceded by the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs/OD P51OD11132), by the John Templeton Foundation (award 40463), and by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience. EB is funded by the Spanish Government (CGL2012-38434-C03-02/03) and by the Italian Institute of Anthropology.

Keywords:

  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Anatomy & Morphology
  • Neurosciences
  • Neurosciences & Neurology
  • Parietal lobes
  • Human evolution
  • Evolutionary neuroanatomy
  • Morphometrics
  • SUPERIOR PARIETAL CORTEX
  • CORTICAL SURFACE-AREA
  • HUMAN BRAIN EVOLUTION
  • DEFAULT-MODE
  • FUNCTIONAL CONNECTIVITY
  • ADULT HUMANS
  • GENUS HOMO
  • SHAPE
  • MONKEYS
  • ORGANIZATION

Evidence for expansion of the precuneus in human evolution

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Journal Title:

Brain Structure and Function

Volume:

Volume 222, Number 2

Publisher:

, Pages 1053-1060

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review

Abstract:

The evolution of neurocranial morphology in Homo sapiens is characterized by bulging of the parietal region, a feature unique to our species. In modern humans, expansion of the parietal surface occurs during the first year of life, in a morphogenetic stage which is absent in chimpanzees and Neandertals. A similar variation in brain shape among living adult humans is associated with expansion of the precuneus. Using MRI-derived structural brain templates, we compare medial brain morphology between humans and chimpanzees through shape analysis and geometrical modeling. We find that the main spatial difference is a prominent expansion of the precuneus in our species, providing further evidence of evolutionary changes associated with this area. The precuneus is a major hub of brain organization, a central node of the default-mode network, and plays an essential role in visuospatial integration. Together, the comparative neuroanatomical and paleontological evidence suggest that precuneus expansion is a neurological specialization of H. sapiens that evolved in the last 150,000 years that may be associated with recent human cognitive specializations.

Copyright information:

© 2016, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

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